JOINT STATEMENT FROM SPEAKERS TRUST AND THE JACK PETCHEY FOUNDATION
ON LEANNE MOHAMAD AND SPEAK OUT COMPETITION
The Jack Petchey “Speak Out” Challenge is the world’s largest public speaking competition for young people. It operates in almost every secondary school in London and Essex. Almost 190,000 young people have spoken out over the years on topics they feel passionately about and none has ever been banned from the process. It is run by the charity Speakers Trust and funded by the Jack Petchey Foundation.
Jack Petchey Foundation exists to inspire, motivate and enable all young people in London and Essex to achieve their potential. The Foundation has invested over £100 million in work with young people through almost every secondary school and youth organisation and works with young people from all backgrounds, religions and cultures without prejudice. It is our desire to promote confidence, positive communication and peace. Hundreds of thousands of young people have benefited from JPF programmes.
On 19th May Leanne Mohamad from Wanstead High School was chosen from among 19 finalists as the 2015/6 Redbridge Regional Final winner. She was chosen by an independent panel of judges.
As a Regional Final winner the speech was posted online. Following vile and hateful comments posted online during this Bank Holiday weekend Speakers Trust removed the video of Leanne’s speech. We will not tolerate trolling of young people. As a small charity without the capacity to moderate comments 24 hours a day it was considered essential to protect Leanne by temporarily suspending the regional video until we were able to consult fully with her school and family.
In terms of progression in the competition – all 37 talented Regional Final champions were entered into the semi-final on Saturday 21st May. Only 15 of these can reach the Grand Final stage. A panel of judges selected the top 15 speeches without any external influence or input and prior to any of the issues that emerged this weekend. The general “rules” of effective public speaking in the Challenge are guidelines to help speakers to create a speech that will connect with a large and diverse audience and every speech was judged on its own merits.
All the young people who were selected were notified in the week after 21st May. Leanne Mohamad was not selected. She does however remain the Redbridge Regional Winner for 2016.
Both the Jack Petchey Foundation and Speakers Trust which runs the Challenge have a primary duty of care to the young people we work with and we cannot accept any form of abuse against them.
We are determined that all of our young speakers, irrespective of background, race or religion, should be able to speak out in a safe and supportive environment. In our society people have the right to hold and express different views or perspectives. It is important that young people can express these, challenge and question in an appropriate manner and learn to live with each other in peace.
Speakers Trust and Jack Petchey Foundation